Subject And Preparation. Part 3
Live an active life among people who are doing worthwhile things, keep eyes and ears and mind and heart open to absorb truth, and then tell of the things you know, as if you know them. The world will listen, for the world loves nothing so much as real life.
How To Use A Library
Unsuspected treasures lie in the smallest library. Even when the owner has read every last page of his books it is only in rare instances that he has full indexes to all of them, either in his mind or on paper, so as to make available the vast number of varied subjects touched upon or treated in volumes whose titles would never suggest such topics.
For this reason it is a good thing to take an odd hour now and then to browse. Take down one volume after another and look over its table of contents and its index. (It is a reproach to any author of a serious book not to have provided a full index, with cross references.) Then glance over the pages, making notes, mental or physical, of material that looks interesting and usable. Most libraries contain volumes that the owner is "going to read some day." A familiarity with even the contents of such books on your own shelves will enable you to refer to them when you want help. Writings read long ago should be treated in the same way - in every chapter some surprise lurks to delight you.
In looking up a subject do not be discouraged if you do not find it indexed or outlined in the table of contents - you are pretty sure to discover some material under a related title.
Suppose you set to work somewhat in this way to gather references on "Thinking:" First you look over your book titles, and there is Schaeffer's "Thinking and Learning to Think." Near it is Kramer's "Talks to Students on the Art of Study" - that seems likely to provide some material, and it does. Naturally you think next of your book on psychology, and there is help there. If you have a volume on the human intellect you will have already turned to it. Suddenly you remember your encyclopedia and your dictionary of quotations - and now material fairly rains upon you; the problem is what not to use. In the encyclopedia you turn to every reference that includes or touches or even suggests "thinking;" and in the dictionary of quotations you do the same. The latter volume you find peculiarly helpful because it suggests several volumes to you that are on your own shelves - you never would have thought to look in them for references on this subject. Even fiction will supply help, but especially books of essays and biography. Be aware of your own resources.
To make a general index to your library does away with the necessity for indexing individual volumes that are not already indexed.
To begin with, keep a note-book by you; or small cards and paper cuttings in your pocket and on your desk will serve as well. The same note-book that records the impressions of your own experiences and thoughts will be enriched by the ideas of others.
To be sure, this note-book habit means labor, but remember that more speeches have been spoiled by halfhearted preparation than by lack of talent. Laziness is an own-brother to Over-confidence, and both are your inveterate enemies, though they pretend to be soothing friends.
Conserve your material by indexing every good idea on cards, thus:
On the card illustrated above, clippings are indexed by giving the number of the envelope in which they are filed. The envelopes may be of any size desired and kept in any convenient receptable. On the foregoing example, "Progress of S., Envelope 16," will represent a clipping, filed in Envelope 16, which is, of course, numbered arbitrarily.
The fractions refer to books in your library - the numerator being the book-number, the denominator referring to the page. Thus, "S. a fallacy, 96/210," refers to page 210 of volume 96 in your library. By some arbitrary sign - say red ink - you may even index a reference in a public library book.
If you preserve your magazines, important articles may be indexed by month and year. An entire volume on a subject may be indicated like the imaginary book by "Forbes." If you clip the articles, it is better to index them according to the envelope system.
Your own writings and notes may be filed in envelopes with the clippings or in a separate series.
Another good indexing system combines the library index with the "scrap," or clipping, system by making the outside of the envelope serve the same purpose as the card for the indexing of books, magazines, clippings and manuscripts, the latter two classes of material being enclosed in the envelopes that index them, and all filed alphabetically.
When your cards accumulate so as to make ready reference difficult Under a single alphabet, you may subdivide each letter by subordinate guide cards marked by the vowels, A, E, I, O, U. Thus, "Antiquities" would be filed under i in A, because A begins the word, and the second letter, n, comes after the vowel i in the alphabet, but before o. In the same manner, "Beecher" would be filed under e in B; and "Hydrogen" would come under u in H.
Outlining The Address
No one can advise you how to prepare the notes for an address. Some speakers get the best results while walking out and ruminating, jotting down notes as they pause in their walk. Others never put pen to paper until the whole speech has been thought out. The great majority, however, will take notes, classify their notes, write a hasty first draft, and then revise the speech. Try each of these methods and choose the one that is best - -far you. Do not allow any man to force you to work in his way; but do not neglect to consider his way, for it may be better than your own.
For those who make notes and with their aid write out the speech, these suggestions may prove helpful:
After having read and thought enough, classify your notes by setting down the big, central thoughts of your material on separate cards or slips of paper. These will stand in the same relation to your subject as chapters do to a book.